Good morning, everyone. Seems the weather is breaking...or trying to, but for how long? They are already predicting that we are going back up into the 90's on Monday. Please don't let the entire summer be like this.
The other day I was reading a blog about changes...about our changing world...how things are now and how they used to be. How different the world was in the 60's, the 70's. Then, later in the night as I was looking something up in one of my old astrology books, and I happened to glance at the publisher...Samuel Weiser...a name I see often, but haven't thought about, yet, today with my thoughts already on the past, I found myself drifting back to a different time...the time of my youth...of leaving behind the small-town country girl to find myself in the big city.
Samuel Weiser was a part of that. I was already interested in the occult and 'New Age' practices when I left New Jersey, and in the 1970's, New York City was indeed a hubbub of pagan activity. The hippies were slowly dying out, but there was enough of them left in the East Village that I don't feel I missed out on anything. I really was NEVER one of your true hippies, but I did so love the clothing...and the freedom of their lifestyle. Washington Square Park (featured above) was the hip place to be. It was a haven for eccentricity. Even today it is at the center of Village life. Saturday Night Live premiered in 1975, and I was already familiar with many of the players...having seen them get their start performing sketches in the park.
One of the first places I found when I moved into the city was a little bookstore called WEISER'S Book Shop. In the early 1970's, it was the largest bookstore of its kind. Anyone who was interested in reading about or practicing any of the occult arts could be found frequenting Weiser's. The staff was so knowledgeable and always took time to assist you.
Another of my favorite haunts was Mason's Bookshop, a little upstairs bookstore run by astrologer, Zoltan Mason. I can still hear the creeky stairs as you ascended to the second floor and entered into a dark, sort of moldy smelling room. Book shelves lined the store walls from floor to ceiling. Zoltan could be found sitting at a desk filled with papers, books, and lots of other little things. Zoltan offered classes in astrology, but by the time I started shopping there, I already knew the basics...and despite my not being a student, I remember he always had time to answer my questions. He was such a great man... and a great astrologer who appeared on American radio and television and even had been invited by the Canadian government to appear on their television. I learned so much from hat man.
And who can ever forget the Magickal Childe...the last great occult shop of New York City...a place filled with such tremendous energy. They sold herbs, candles, oils, robes, and also carried a modest array of books. One could also find swords, human skulls, and a wide variety of jewelry. There was a room in the back that served as a temple and a classroom for Wiccans who were gravitating to the store. The owner of the store, Herman Slater, belonged to a coven that practiced a Welsh tradition of witchcraft, and eventually he became the high priest of the coven.
Those little shops are gone now; they belong to a bygone era. Today we have our "East West Books" which is a great store, but there was something special about the atmosphere of those little shops of the 1970's. Washington Square Park no longer stays open 24 hours a day; crime has put a stop to that. You know, writing about this brings goosebumps to my arms and tears to my eyes. Such a special part of the past...gone, but never forgotten. That was the time I left the country bumpkin behind and became a city gal. That was the time I was a part of...a part of something new...a part of the newly reborn era of the Pagan.
The following is Washington Square Park as I remember it...a special place with special people